January 15, 1876: Die Afrikaanse Patriot is first published. It was the first Afrikaans language newspaper and published in Paarl, Cape Colony – now South Africa. It was first published as a monthly magazine and two years later became a weekly publication. There were only fifty subscribers for this first edition and even so, it drew sharp criticism because Afrikaans was a “kitchen” form of Dutch and should not be confused with a literary language. By the third year of print, there were about 3,000 subscribers, many from the Transvaal Republic. The paper endorsed Cecil Rhodes in 1892 and much of the Paul Kruger supporting Transvaal readership abandoned the paper. It went out of print in 1904.
Afrikaans is a daughter language meaning it is derived in large part from a predecessor language. Today, it is one of the official languages of South Africa and is also spoken in Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The Dutch settlers came to the southern tip of Africa to settle and brought their language with them. In Africa, the language developed independently through much of the 1700s. It was sometimes called Cape Dutch or kitchen Dutch, a derogatory term referring to the lower status of the speakers of the language. Words from other languages are included in Afrikaans but it remains 90-95% of Dutch origin. The grammar is different but speakers of modern Dutch and Afrikaans have a high degree of mutual intelligibility, especially in written form.
Afrikaans has a vocabulary similar to Dutch, but the morphology, grammar, and spelling are far more regular in Afrikaans. It was considered to be a Dutch dialect, and a substandard one at that, until the early 20th century when it was finally considered to be distinct language under South African law. Many of the workers and slaves who contributed to the development of the language were Asians, especially Malays, as well as from other areas of Africa. There were three main dialects of Afrikaans which developed after the 1830s Great Trek. The Northern Cape dialect was heavily influenced by the Khoi-Khoi and the Eastern Cape dialect was heavily influenced by the Xhosa.
Today, there are about 7 million native speakers of Afrikaans in South Africa, or about 13.5% of the population. It is the third most spoken mother tongue in the country. (IsiZula is first and IsiXhosa is second while English is fourth). It is widely distributed geographically and racially and is also the second or third language of many others. It is the majority language of the western half of South Africa. The Namibia, it is largely spoken as a second language and used as lingua franca (bridge language or trade language – spoken by many as a second language to make communication possible over a wider range). It is estimated that there are between 15 and 23 million Afrikaans speakers in the world.
One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die. – Evelyn Waugh
Loving your language means a command of its vocabulary beyond the level of the everyday. = John McWhorter
Vocabulary is a matter of word-building as well as word-using. – David Crystal
Human vocabulary is still not capable, and probably never will be, of knowing, recognizing, and communicating everything that can be humanly experienced and felt. – Jose Saramago
Also on this day: The British Museum – In 1759, the British Museum opened to the public.
Snowflake Bentley – In 1885, William Bentley first photographed a snowflake.
Donkeys and Elephants – In 1870, “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast was published.
Wikipedia – In 2001, a new website began.
Super Bowl I – In 1967, the first Super Bowl was played.